Sunny summers and countless inviting lakes in Arkansas are the perfect combination when it comes to boating fun. Unfortunately, every year the fun occasionally turns to tragedy for hundreds of people in Arkansas when they are involved in boating accidents.

According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, 204 people were involved in boating accidents in our state in 2018. Of those involved, 29 were injured badly enough to need medical attention, and seven people died. 

Remember, too, the number one cause of death in a boating accident is drowning, and most of those deaths occur when life vests are not worn, or not properly fitted and secured. It’s a good reminder to wear your safety vest when boating, and be sure your children and others you care about do too!

One accident is too many when it’s our loved ones who are hurt or killed. Understanding the main causes of boating accidents is a great first step in preventing these tragedies from happening. Below are the five most common causes of boating accidents in Arkansas:

Operator inattention.

Any number of hazards can lead to accidents, including inclimate weather, debris or branches in the water, and other boats or recreational crafts. If an operator is not paying close attention, or if there is no lookout with an eye out for problems, accidents occur.

Inexperienced operators. 

Much like driving a car, operating a boat takes some experience to do well. Unfortunately, many boat operators don’t know what they don’t know.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission requires boat operators to earn a boating education certificate issued after taking an approved Game & Fish boating course if they are born on or after January 1, 1986. It should be noted that there are a number of boater safety courses available, primarily online, that do not qualify as an approved course. It doesn’t hurt to take these courses as supplements to a Game & Fish approved course, and doing so may earn you discounts on your insurance.

Excessive speed. 

It is against the law to operate a boat at unsafe or unreasonable speeds, or to operate a boat above the posted speed limit. Sometimes lakes and rivers appear to be wide open and safe to open the throttle, but as most experienced boaters know, you should always be prepared for the unexpected.

Impaired operators.

In Arkansas, a boat operator is considered to be boating while intoxicated (BWI) if their blood, urine, or breath alcohol concentration is equal to or over 0.08%. A driver under the age of 21 is considered to be intoxicated if their BAC is greater than 0.02%. 

You don’t have to reach the legal limit in order to be charged with BWI. If you are under the influence of a controlled substance or of alcohol, and the officer believes your judgment, motor skills, or reactions are affected to the point that you could injure or kill yourself or someone else, you may be deemed by the officer to be legally intoxicated. 

In any case, if you are operating a boat, don’t drink or use drugs. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that drinking increases the likelihood of boating fatalities by a concerning 34%. It simply isn’t worth the risk.

Have you been charged with BWI? We can help. 

Faulty Equipment

It only seems logical that, before you get into a large, moving vehicle, you’d want it to be in good operating condition. Yet faulty equipment is one of the top 5 causes of boat crashes in the U.S. 

Boat maintenance can be easy to overlook, especially when they sit idle for months on end, but making sure everything is running smoothly is just as important before it’s launched into the water as tuning up your car before it hits the road.

Have You Been Involved in a Boating Accident?

Regardless of the cause, if you have been involved in a boat accident, call the personal injury attorneys at Collins, Collins & Ray. We will make sure the insurance company does not take advantage of you, and that you are compensated for all you deserve.

Have You Been Charged with BWI or DUI? 

Let us help. Our experienced attorneys know how to provide you with the best defense possible if you have been arrested for DUI or BWI.

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